Innovation is a change in the thought process for doing something, or the useful application of new inventions or discoveries. It may refer to an incremental emergent or radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations.

In the recent past a growing meme in Africa has been that of the rise of innovation centers across the continent, particularly with respect to technology. Terms such as Silicon Savannah have been coined to describe the rise of a young and ambitious cadre of Africans (the Cheetah Generation) who are leveraging technology – particularly web and mobile – to innovate their way into the future. The 2007 IBM Innovation Outlook Report on Africa, explores different factors that are coming together to change the face of the African continent: skills, value chains, infrastructure, mobile and more. The report states:

Theirs is a story full of potential. They represent nearly one-seventhof the planet’s population, and are its youngest and fastest-growing segment, with nearly half (43 percent) under the age of 15. They sit on a treasure trove of natural resources that are the envy of the world.They are increasingly educated, connected and motivated to drive change. They are African, and they are ready to stake their claim as an emerging force in the global economy.

Across the continent, a burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit is taking hold, a thirst for economic independence. Africans are tired of being perceived as charity cases, and they are ready to apply their considerable business creativity to global markets.


A testament to the growth of the ‘Africa-Innovation’ meme is the many conferences are turning their eye on the promotion of innovation.Last year, a key event in the area of innovation in Africa was Nokia’s Open Innovation Africa Summit. This year, in South Africa, the 4th annualInnovation Summit is set to be held at the end of August. This event brings together 54 of the most exciting and successful innovators in business, government and academia from South Africa, Africa and beyond. Furthermore, the conference also aims at creating an environment where people can openly share ideas.

Next page: Contributing Factors >>

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